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Letter to province: Keep local choice on elections, consult on major changes

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UPDATED: On Jan. 18, 2021, I received a response from the Minister’s Office. A copy of the signed letter is available here — Minister Reply Mayor Meed Ward Letter re Elections Act_Jan 18 2021.

Earlier today, I sent a letter to the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding Bill 218, advocating that local choice on election systems be retained, and requesting the province consult with municipalities in advance of making major legislative changes.

That letter is reproduced below, and the PDF link is here: Ranked Ballots

Office of the Mayor

 

City Hall

426 Brant Street

Burlington, Ontario

L7R 3Z6

Telephone: 905-335-7607

Email: mayor@burlington.ca

Twitter: @mariannmeedward

Facebook: facebook.com/marianne.meedward

The Honourable Premier Doug Ford

Premier’s Office

Room 281 Legislative Building, Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 1A1

The Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

777 Bay Street, 17th Floor

Toronto, Ontario

M5G 2E5

October 30, 2020

Dear Premier and Minister Clark,

The recent announcement by the provincial government in Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, to revoke the power for Ontario municipalities to conduct ranked ballot votes for municipal elections has come as a surprise.

This change eliminates local choice in elections and was inserted into the legislation with no consultation with municipalities, even though several have begun the process of consulting the public, have held  referenda receiving majority support, or, in the case of London, Ont., have adopted the system.

Burlington City Council passed a motion Sept. 28, 2020 directing staff to begin public consultation on the use of ranked ballots in future municipal elections in our city. Council was looking forward to hearing directly from residents whether or not they want to retain the current firstpastthepost system, or adopt ranked ballots. Their voice, and choice, are eliminated with this proposed bill.

In addition, a motion from Burlington City Councillors Shawna Stolte and Rory Nisan is being presented at a special meeting of Burlington City Council on Monday, Nov. 2 asking your government to retain the option for local choice. Please refer to Agenda, item 6.1.

Regardless of ones views on ranked ballots, the issue is local choice. Municipalities are an independent and responsible order of government, and the one closest to the people. Our residents should choose for themselves which system they prefer.

The provincial government is respectfully requested: 

* to amend Bill 218 to retain local choice on electoral systems; and

* to meaningfully consult with municipalities on municipal issues before introducing legislative changes of this magnitude.

 

Sincerely,

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

City of Burlington

cc: MPPs Jane McKenna, Effie Triantafilopoulos, Parm Gill

Graydon Smith, President, AMO

Brian Rosborough, Executive Director, AMO

Anna Hopkins, Chair, Large Urban Caucus, AMO

Cam Guthrie, Chair, Ontario Big City Mayors Caucus

Burlington City Council

 

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4 thoughts on “Letter to province: Keep local choice on elections, consult on major changes”

  1. This is not leadership from our provincial government. It has become abundantly clear that Doug Ford does not wish to consult with the public. Everyone is so busy following the daily announcements related to COVID-19 that other legislative issues that are not good for the public are getting pushed through unbeknownst to the public. Thanks for standing up again for Burlington.

  2. Thank you Mme. Mayor.
    This Ont Gov proposal is a horrendous usurpation of local democracy.
    It should and must be opposed by municipal officials and all who respect local autonomy.

  3. I oppose ranked voting as I find the system inappropriate for Burlington’ circumstances. However I support the CoB administration’s position that the choice should remain at the local level.

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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